Welcome to 2015!
I’m not sure what it is about the New Year that carries such significance for us as humans. There’s no real spiritual significance that I know of. Calendars are simply a way for us to mark time, and we don’t all follow the same calendar, at that. The Jews have their own calendar, for example; so do the Chinese. So the “new year” is actually different days for different ones of us. If you think about it, the New Year is just the changing of the calendar.
Not that I’m dissing it. Quite the opposite. I marvel sometimes at why it carries significance for us, but I know that for some reason it does. I think there’s a need we have inside us to stop and reflect about the previous year, and focus on our desires for the new year. I suppose it’s significant because we need it to be.
By all accounts, 2014 was one of the best years of our lives. In 2014, we became homeowners; we took not one, but two vacations (including one to Paris); The Wild One’s art business began to take off; and I had more work than I could handle. We became homeowners. I guess I already said that. A lot of seeds we’d sown in tears were reaped with joy. We’ve had a lot of tough years where not a lot happened. 2014 stands in stark contrast to that.
I’ve never seen The Wild One look back upon a year with such satisfaction, nor look forward to a new year with such hope. And yet…for awhile, anyway, I found I couldn’t share in her joy.
I could look back on 2014 and see all that had happened, all we had accomplished, all the ways in which God had blessed us–but for some reason, all I could remember about 2014 on an emotional level was the stress and pressure I’d felt all year to make those things happen. All I recalled was what these things had taken out of me, the toll they had taken. Figuring out how to close on the townhome, worrying about how to pay for our trips, worrying about things in general–and how tired I feel as a result. It was like I could see all these blessings, but I felt no joy or satisfaction in them. All I felt was fatigue, and more worry about how to get everything done that’s in front of me to do as we start 2015.
Stress. Or perhaps more poignantly–fear.
Over the past 24 hours, I’ve really done some soul searching about this, because I knew something wasn’t right. We HAVE had a terrific year–why did I feel robbed of my joy over it? As much as I wanted to find something/someone else to blame, I realized the only one to blame was me. These were not bad things that happened–they were very good things. But nothing good comes without some cost–and yet, here I was, mourning the loss of energy and the stress I felt, instead of celebrating the blessings those efforts had produced. What a dufus.
Some of it is real–I am pretty tired. I’ve really worked my butt off this year, and I’m having to tell myself to take breaks. But as I’ve sought God about this and searched my own heart, here’s what I’ve realized: growth does not come without stress. If all we do is avoid stress, we’ll never grow–we’ll just stay in the same place and become complacent. The stress I felt this year was not because of bad stuff, but because we experienced tremendous growth. This is what I’ve been praying for, for years now. “God, bring us into our full inheritance.” That’s been my prayer, and He’s answering it.
But stress is inherent to growth. Growth pushes us past our comfort zones, pushes us into realms and depths we’re not used to navigating. People don’t realize how scary growth can be. A lot of people want their lives to get better, but they don’t want the uncertainty that comes with growth because it’s sort of our nature to avoid discomfort. I think this is why a lot of people complain about their circumstances, but continue to wallow in their misery even when they could do something to change it. Whether they realize it or not, their misery has become their comfort zone.
I have been praying for growth. I was naive to think that wouldn’t come with a degree of stress, discomfort, pressure, uncertainty, even a measure of fear to overcome. My problem wasn’t the stress itself, but rather how I was managing it.
As this began to dawn on me, my outlook began to change. I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and I started to feel what The Wild One is feeling: joy over the past year, and hope for the next. I don’t want to stop growing just to feel comfortable, just to feel less stress. That just leads to more status quo. Nor do I want to allow stress and fear to overshadow the victories that growth produces.
So as I close the book on 2014, and look ahead to 2015, I now have a fresh sense of gratitude for what is past, and hope for the future. I believe God has us on a trajectory of growth and restoration, and I want to embrace that process fully going into this year.
Speaking of 2015…It’s worth mentioning that on December 30, this here blog quietly passed its 7th anniversary. It’s also worth mentioning that I’ve got some cool new stuff on the burner that I plan to unveil within the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
Hope your 2015 is one of blessing and growth.